Gay Travel Laos: Vientiane, the Colorful Lao Capital
Vientiane, the often-overlooked capital of Laos, was a sleepy colonial town just ten years ago. Nowadays, it is hopping with progress, trendy shopping and dining, and even a bit of gay nightlife. You can reach Vientiane by air in just over an hour from Bangkok, and less than half an hour by air from Luang Prabang or by road via the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge at Nong Khai.
Where We Shine:
There is more to Laos than Luang Prabang!
Vientiane is the cozy capital city of laid-back Laos. With red earthen roads, and no skyscrapers, "Sandalwood City" exudes a timeless charm but for ubiquitous cyber cafes. Hugging the banks of the mighty Mekong River, it sits opposite the town of Nong Khai in Thailand, united by the Friendship Bridge permitting easy access by land. While the people on both sides of the river share a common language and culture, distinctions are immediately evident. Laos is not highly populated and even this largest of its cities is barely bustling. Nature here is more abundant and free-form than in Thailand and wild flowers and ancient tree-lined lanes abound. Temples are less formal than their Thai counterparts, and Purple Dragon guests should not miss a chance to visit to a candle-lit wat in the cool of evening for a real slice-of-Lao-life.
Day One: Vientiane's Treasures
Travel by air to Vientiane. We meet you on arrival and deliver you to your hotel. (You can also arrive by road, crossing the Friendship Bridge, which will necessitate some slight rearrangement of your itinerary.) After lunch your personal guide will introduce you to Vientiane's famous sights: Wat Si Saket, its walls fitted with thousands of Buddha statues and 19th century mural paintings; Haw Pha Kaew, once the home of the famous Emerald Buddha (now in Bangkok's Grand Palace), offering a splendid collection of antiques and Buddhist sculptures; and Pha That Luang (closed Mondays), Laos' most famous monument, an intricate structure designed to assist contemplation by Buddhist pilgrims as they circle and climb the stupa.
Your guide knows the best restaurants for Lao, French, and international fare and would be pleased to make some recommendations or even join you for dinner if you like. If you are looking to check out the gay scene in Vientiane, the city has many small, mixed clubs that roll on into the wee hours.
Day Two: A Morning Market & a Haunting Park
Depart after breakfast to explore the Talaat Sao, the morning market, with its vast selection of hand-woven fabrics and local handicrafts. Afterwards, take a short drive out of town to visit the haunting Xieng Khuan (also known as Buddha Park), a surreal folk-art sculpture garden whose artist went on to create a sister garden, Wat Kaeg, on the Thai side of the river. Afterwards drop by a park filled with homes and cultural displays by Lao ethnic groups, including lowlanders, central Lao, and hilltribes. If you still have energy, consider paying a visit to the Lao Revolutionary Museum housed in a 1920s French colonial mansion, Wat Si Muang, site of the phallic city pillar and its spirit guardian, or Wat Sok Pa Luang, famous for its traditional herbal sauna and massage.
Day Three: Time to Chill or Shop
Prices and Hotels
Prices depend on your choice of hotel and when you want to travel.
We offer eight different hotels in Vientiane, ranging from three to five stars. If you have a specific hotel in mind, please let us know. All of the hotels we use are carefully chosen for location, amenities, quality of service, security and value. We only use hotels that are gay-owned, gay-managed or gay-friendly. We inspect most hotels at least once a year.
To see prices and compare hotels please click on the "$" button on the left. If you have questions or suggestions about the hotels we use, please email us.
Club Sanook Members can take an instant discount when you combine our Luang Prabang and Vientiane packages. For details click on the icon below and join the club!
Custom vacations are our specialty. If this tour package is not exactly what you are looking for, we may be able to modify it to make it a perfect fit.